Would you strap on an Apple (AAPL) Watch or Fitbit (FIT) device to get a better deal on your health insurance?
You may have the opportunity soon, as the once-stodgy insurance business explores ways to take advantage of vast quantities of consumer health data and the proliferation of wearable devices. Many insurers are conducting pilot tests that involve asking people to wear personal devices that collect health information, says Shane Cassidy, senior vice president for North American insurance with consulting firm CapGemini Financial Services in Chicago.
One of the things the companies will want to know is how many people actually go for it. If the consumer guinea pigs seem receptive, the rest of us may have the opportunity to participate.
"Insurance is a completely a data-driven business," Cassidy says. "The amount of data available to insurers is growing every day."
Some people who know their health habits are poor may not want to use smart watches in such a way; others may think of it as a way to get fitter.
"If I knew I was going to need to get in shape then I would wear one," says Cassidy.
The use of such data collection may be buoyed by growth in the individual insurance market since passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. One of the problems for participating insurers is trying to estimate the true risks involved. UnitedHealth Group (UNH) recently threatened to pull out of the ObamaCare exchanges due to low signups from individuals and higher than expected claims from those who did enroll.
Obtaining individual data should enable the company, along with rivals Humana (HUM) , Anthem (ANTM) , and Aetna (AET) , to more accurately price products.